The Big Sleep

Colour Guide

Colour Scheme
Chic, sophisticated, subdued, calming

Key Textures
Matt wall finish, gloss, mirror, velvet, linen, silk, wool, cane, wicker, brass, glass


The background colour of this room is nothing unusual but paired with this quantity of yellow it starts to become interesting. Normally you would find only a hint of yellow, an accent for want of a better word (I really dislike that word, almost as much as I dislike the word ‘flair’). On closer inspection of the colour palette you’ll notice that it’s actually quite narrow. There are various shades and tints of the mushroomy colour, yellow and a reddish brown.

Stylistically, it mixes traditional shapes, antique pieces and modern forms – both casual and formal. Imagine for a moment the space was void of the Georgian panelling and tiled Swedish Kakelugnar stove, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as interesting. Adding architecture interests and detailing like panelling or beading gives depth to an interior. No, not Roman columns, that mistake happened in the 80’s and we can still see the remnants in some homes – they were never a good thing. I’m talking plaster detailing around cornices and ceiling roses, panelled shutters on windows and ornate fire surrounds. I say this with caution (and some caveats), don’t be too concerned about keeping to the period of the building – within reason – it’s about creating layers and interest.

As usual the largest area is the white ceiling at 20%. The beautiful plasterwork around the perimeter of the room pushes the walls out while reducing the undecorated area in size. This treatment draws attention to the chandelier. (If you are after one of these try The artwork and lamp base is also white.

I’m not one for a taupy palette but in this context with it being at the darker umber end of the scale I quite like it, especially in the shadows. Glistening in the corner is the round tiled stove, it’s the same colour as the walls and the shape, along with the tile surface, add interest whilst filling a dead corner.

Now for the yellow, it’s been used as the window and floor treatment. The fabric on the window has a slight sheen that reflects the light whilst flat weave rug adsorbs the light. The 12% yellow is bold and commands attention. Yellow normally packs a punch in an interior but in this case it has a touch of black that tonally keeps the scheme quite calm, almost even.

The subtle grain of the oak floor together with the herringbone pattern adds warmth and texture and totals 12% overall.

At 7% is the parchment colour that appears in the bed linen, artwork, cushion and lamp shade.

Also at 7% is the mushroomy shade on the traditional settee. If I had to sum up the quintessential English settee it would have to be this – it’s compact, understated and comfortable.

The dark wood four-poster bed accounts for 5%. The largest piece in the room is modern and elegant which is in juxtaposition to traditional finishes such has the panelling and plasterwork.

Cane has taken on a resurgence over the past few years. The fluid modern designs are able to sit comfortably both inside and out. It’s colour works along the same line as the yellow curtains and adds 2% to the scheme.

You realise this is a clever interior when you see how the 1% red tone appears. At polar opposites in cost, style and period red is seen in the antique mahogany side table and the wicker basket in the far left corner. Together these two pieces give the room depth in style, breathe in budget- mixing high st with antique, texture in material and pattern and lastly, makes the space feel dynamic.

The colour on the sofa and bed cushions is an olive green. Adding a further 1% it’s a slight variation to the mushroom colour and rests calmly on both adding interest without dominating. It has also been blended with black on the ottoman.

Both brass and black adds 1% a piece to the colour palette. Black has been chosen for the curtain pole, cushion trims, pair of bedside lights and sofa legs. The artwork also shows black tones as does the oval ottoman. The gorgeous Swedish chandelier shimmers with its brass frame and crystal beads. Brass is also seen on the Kakelugnar stove.

Can you spot the fresh green? It’s only a sliver, but I think it’s a brilliant addition. Again, it adds freshness both in design and colour. It’s only 1% but it changes the pace of the interior.

The one material that plays a large part in this interior is the mirrored sideboard. Not sure with what the technical colour is called but the copper tones sit calmly with the palette. Should it have been a plain mirrored cabinet you would find it being too crisp and fresh a piece amongst the rest. Kind of like… a football uniform post match but the socks are still clean. Make sense? The other important point to make about this piece is that it’s modern in shape, which again is juxtaposed with the architectural details.

You have to forgive me but I can’t quite see what the bedside tables are, or what is on the top of the side cabinet. As I mentioned at the start this colour palette is narrow but it is a brilliant example of mixing style, budget and materials. It works without feeling artificial.


TIP: Adding white or off-white to an interior freshens and lifts colour palettes.

TIP: On small windows extend curtain rod 30cm-50cm on one or both sides to ensure curtains don’t block light when opened.


*The colour on screen is not a true representation of actual colour.